Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Mal Waldron/Steve Lacy: Live at Dreher Paris 1981

This new edition of these enduring club recordings by pianist Mal Waldron and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy makes little improvement upon the last incarnation, issued only seven years ago with the same 24-bit master. The main benefit of these four CDs being reissued in twin two-CD folders, wrapped in the type of outer sleeve used by ECM and Nonesuch, is that it simplifies filing; previously, both Lacy and Waldron got top billing on one of the two separately issued volumes. The down side is also minor; the last edition’s wonderful tray photo of Lacy, leaning over the top of the upright piano in between-tunes consultation with Waldron, is replaced by blurbs for two Monk-related Lacy Hatology titles, an unusual promotional gesture by the austere Swiss label.

Still, for anyone with a serious interest in either artist, Live at Dreher Paris 1981 is an essential collection. By this time in their respective developments, both artists had stripped their approaches down to the bare essentials. Though this was their first gig as a duo, they had worked periodically on each other’s projects for well over 20 years, giving them more than adequate familiarity with each other’s tendencies as composers and improvisers. As a result, every note on these four CDs is on point, brimming with rhythmic vigor and hip insight. The grit of their exchanges is markedly enhanced by the marginal house piano, whose thunderless bass octaves and jangly above-the-staffs register give Waldron’s incessant block chords and motifs an unexpected sting.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published